Proposal for the Fourth International Symposium on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education, on the theme "Rethinking Wealth Creation and Distribution in the Jubilee: A Double Challenge for Catholic Social Thought and Management Education" Universidad Iberoamericana, Puebla, Mexico, July 12-14, 2000.William Sweet, St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5 CANADA
It is difficult to read a newspaper or a magazine, or listen to the radio or television, without coming across some mention of the phenomenon of global market integration. What is entailed by global market integration, however, is not always clear; what is clear, is that it is something which presents a number of challenges to existing institutions particularly concerned with wealth creation and distribution (and to those affected by these institutions), and to which one must respond. And part of this response must involve an appeal to justice--specifically, economic justice.
This is by no means a straightforward matter. Today's global market
integration has elicited a mixed response, but again this is not surprising
for this has always been the case with movements that have a globalizing
Some have insisted that these putatively negative features of such market integration are not as extensive and pervasive as has been claimed, and have argued there are aspects of it that are quite positive. While they undoubtedly lead to local economic disruption and the transformation not only of national economies but of values, the vehicles of global market integration might also bring some positive values and even provide means of preserving 'local' culture and traditions.
Still, there has been a strong reaction to market integration. Think, for example, of the work of scholars, such as Saskia Sassen and Mahdi Elmandjra, who have advanced a sustained theoretical critique of Global Market Integration. Think, as well, of the demonstrations in developing countries, such as India, over policy decisions made by the World Bank.
In any event, and however positive or negative its effects, global market integration is a fact. Given the ever-increasing levels of integration of national economies, the existence and the insertion into daily life of new technologies--particularly, information technology--and the opportunities for travel and trade throughout the world, global market integration and its accompanying forces and features are not going to disappear. To oppose it unequivocally would be no more successful than the Luddite opposition was to industrialization. There seems to be, then, no question of whether we should reject global market integration; it is, rather, whether we can effectively manage or control it.
It is here that one might make an appeal to economic justice. Nevertheless, one might well ask whether it is possible to make such an appeal in an environment that seems to marginalize questions of justice or remove them to a private sphere. Is there any way to make an appeal to justice--a moral appeal--within the context of globalizing economic forces?
I want to argue that there is-- that one can meet the preceding challenges of global market integration --i.e., find ways to 'redeem' it, to ensure that it is responsive to basic human needs, and to direct it so that it can address at least some of the concerns of those who find that they have benefited little from it--without rejecting it. Specifically, I will argue that certain models of discourse and dialogue, as well as an analysis of market integartion, show that there is, or can be, common ground shared by critics and proponents of integration alike, and that this can provide a basis for a constructive response to the challenges this presents.
I will argue that analysis of the phenomenon of global market integration itself indicates that the values that one finds in implicit in this integration are not, and cannot be, complete and exhaustive, and that they need to be consistent with certain basic facts about the world and about the nature of human persons. I will argue that it is by an appeal to a discourse that includes the recognition of such facts that it is possible that one could 'redirect' or reform some of the values and trends that have accompanied such market integration, specifically those that have come into conflict with other important values and traditions. And given this model of discourse or dialogue, one can (I will argue) discern or arrive at a means of making an appeal to an ideal of economic justice--an ideal that is intelligible within the perspectives of both those who can be described as agents of market integration, and those who would oppose them.